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Rangers Progress in CAF Cup After 3-1 Pelicans Win

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Rangers International Football Club of Enugu have sealed a place in the the pre-group stage playoffs of this year’s CAF Confederation Cup competition.

This was after they thrashed AS Pelicans of Gabon 3-1 in the return leg match of the second preliminary round on Sunday at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium in Enugu.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Flying Antelopes went through 4-3 on aggregate, having lost 1-2 in the first leg match about two weeks earlier.

The hosts came out fighting immediately after the kick-off and fired a warning shot to the Gabonese side after two minutes.

This was when defender Semiu Liadi directed his headed effort into the side netting from a Chidera Eze free-kick at the edge of the Pelicans penalty box.

But three minutes later, Liadi went into the referee’s book when he tripped goalbound Cruz Ndong Enteghe on the edge of Rangers penalty box.

Dertin Amores wasted no effort and planted a left foot kick into the top corner to give Pelicans a shock lead in the fifth minute.

Having gone behind so early in the game, the Flying Antelopes poured out in numbers, piling series of attacks into their opponents’ vital area in search of goals.

The chances came in trickles but poor decisions in the final third cost them time and again.

Their efforts were, however, rewarded in the 19th minute when Ifeanyi George took advantage of a moment of indecision between Pelicans’ defenders and the goalkeeper to head in the equaliser.

Rangers grew in confidence, dominant in their play and had an appeal for a penalty kick waved away by the referee when Tope Olusesi went to the ground inside the box under a slight challenge.

But the ball came back gloriously to George who fired inches over the crossbar when he should have scored.

Both sides went into the half-time break on equal terms with the visitors holding a 3-2 aggregate advantage.

Rangers came back in the second period more dominant as highlighted by two quick goals.

Nnamdi Egbujuo headed in from a corner kick five minutes after the restart to give the hosts a 2-1 lead and 3-3 on aggregate.

Five minutes later, Oluwatoyin Olawoyin made it 3-1 on the night and 4-3 on aggregate for Rangers when he scrambled in the ball during a goalmouth tussle.

Coach Benedict Ugwu refreshed his team’s attack early in the second half, leading to the rush of goals, with the introduction of Chinonso Ezekwe for Chidera Eze.

He later substituted veteran Bartholomew Ibenegbu for Kenechukwu Agu as the home side pressed for more goals.

With 12 minutes left on the clock, Pelicans forward Odile Ombio forced a fantastic save from Rangers goalkeeper Japhet Opubo, following a cross from the right flank.

With the 3-1 advantage on the night, Rangers resorted to game management and defended in numbers to contain the now adventurous Pelicans strikers to run away victors at the end of a pulsating encounter.(NAN)

SPORTS

NFF Seeks Increased Corporate Organisations  Funding of Nigerian Football

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The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), has called on corporate organisations to increase support to the federation to help develop football in the country.

The NFF President, Ibrahim Gusau made the call when MTN Nigeria hosted the Super Eagles on Tuesday in Abuja.

Reports says that Super Eagles finished as runner up to the host country, Ivory Coast at the just concluded 2023 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Cote d`Ivoire.

Gusau said without finance the team would not have achieved what it achieved in the tournament.

“All of us today would have loved to be celebrating here with the trophy but unfortunately God knows why.

“We thank God at least as we heard from the captain this is the beginning of the new dawn as far as Nigerian football is concerned.

“I want to use this opportunity to thank MTN for their support and I hope that other corporate organisations will come up to see how they can support us the most.

“Without finances we cannot achieve what we have been able to achieve, so we need more corporate organisations to support us to build on what we have so far built,” he said.

The Chairman MTN Board of Directors, Prof. Ernest Ndukwe, said that  MTN’s support for  the Eagles was  its own way of giving back to the society.

“This is because MTN is a sport loving organisation. Over the years, we have always wanted to support the Super Eagles in various ways. MTN is fully committed to continuing the Super Eagles.

“We are building a nation where sports have a great role to play as a unifying force. So if we support sports, we are actually promoting unity among Nigerians,” he said.

The MTN’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Karl Toriola on his part appreciated the emotional commitment of the players to succeed.

“What I liked about this team which we haven’t seen in other teams of other nations was the visible emotional commitment to succeed.

“Unfortunately we didn’t bring the cup home but that is always going to be difficult when you are playing against your host country.

“You guys have shown your complete commitment through your leadership, and we are extremely proud of you supporting the Nigerian football federation and the super eagles,” he said

Head Coach of the Super Eagles, Jose Peseiro, thanked everyone that supported the team all through their preparations and the tournament proper.

“To the NFF I thank you, MTN I thank you, Nigerians I thank you for all the support,”he said

The Assistant Captain of the Super Eagles, Troost Ekong who spoke on behalf of the team, said this was the beginning of a new era.

“Thank you NFF, thank you MTN, thank you Nigerians, thank you our fans. We have given everything we have and have made everyone proud.

“We will be better in the future. Because this is not the end but the beginning of something new and we are hoping for the best,”he said.

Mrs Ifueko Okauru, Board Member, MTN Nigeria and former Chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), said MTN supported all gender, age brackets, abled and disabled persons in the society.

“MTN supports all genders and all of us able and disabled, young and old. Whatever is needed to support MTN is here to support.

“Sports development is more than just what corporate organisations do; it needs significant funding and it also needs passion to ensure that this is done and done excellently.

“I must say though we all love sports, the fans are a major part of sports development.

“The economic condition of the fans is very important to ensure that as a corporate organization, we drive sports development by encouraging fans development and developing businesses around sports to grow sports,” he said. (NAN)

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SPORTS

Côte d’Ivoire wins African Cup of Nations after Defeating Nigeria.

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THE host, Elephants Of Ivory Coast beat Super Eagles of Nigeria 2-1 to win the Africa Cup of Nations 2023.

It’s was all Ivory Coast but they weren’t able to make their possession count and Nigeria strike with their first serious attempt in the 38th minute.

A corner is only half cleared to William Troost-Ekong who powers a header into the net.

The centre-back and captain Troost-Ekong has scored three goals at this year’s Afcon.

That’s one more than he managed during his whole 68 appearances in three seasons at Watford.

Ivory Coast got a deserved equaliser in the 62nd minute, as poor marking allows Franck Kessie to head his country back with a fine corner from Gradel.

Kessie was about eight yards out but he was totally unmarked.

The host took the lead in the 81st-Minute, the roof came off as Sebastien Haller sticks out a leg to turn Simon Adingra’s cross past Super Eagles keeper, Nwabali.

The Super Eagles have lost more Afcon finals than they have won.

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SPORTS

About 2 Billion People Watching 2023 AFCON—- CAF President

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 The Confederation of African Football (CAF) President, Patrice Motsepe, on Friday in Abidjan said about two billion people globally are watching the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Côte d’Ivoire.

Motsepe disclosed this at a news conference, ahead of the AFCON final on Saturday.

He described the feat as an achievement that Africans should be proud of.

“We have had close to two billion people watching AFCON globally.

We should be proud as Africans and the next one will be even better.

“The success of Africa depends upon Africa working together, trading together, and in football, countries competing and playing together,” he said.

Reports says that the organisation of the tournament has so far been top notch, with six beautiful stadia across five cities hosting the continental showpiece.

The Super Eagles of Nigeria will lock horns with hosts Cote d’Ivoire in a block burster final on Sunday at the 60, 000 capacity Alassane Ouattara Stadium, Ebimpé in the outskirts of Abidjan.

While the third-place match on Saturday between South Africa and DR Congo is slated for the iconic Stade Félix Houphouët-Boigny also in Abidjan.(NAN)

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